Lurgan College student witnesses Brexit in Brussels
My 3-day visit to the European Parliament in Brussels, Belgium was a fantastic experience, particular as my visit coincided with the UK’s historic exit from the EU. I delved into the inner workings of the political system, thanks to Naomi Long MEP and her office staff Niamh, Liam, and Nathan.
The trip began as all good trips, surrounded by strangers, a croissant in hand and some nervous introductions to the 19 other young people from NI selected for this opportunity. Our first event was with a frazzled Civil Servant in the Northern Irish Executive Office in Brussels who explained to us how difficult her job has been with no Executive back home for the past three years.
On the second day, I met with a journalist from Politico, an LGBTI campaigner from ILGA Europe, a Corporate Lobbyist for the spirits industry and a political activist. These disparate group gave a wonderful overview of political life in Brussels and set us up nicely for a tour of the EU Parliament itself. We learned about the various institutions within the EU before spending more time with Naomi Long which was very generous of her given her workload increase resulting from her very recent appointment as NI’s new Justice Minister.
On the third day things took an unexpected turn when our group was invited to role-play an imaginary law-making scenario set in Narnia! Some of us were MPs, some of us were lobbyists and others took on the role of journalists. The role-play led to the climate change bill not being passed, an MP killing a princess, an election, and eventually a coalition government was formed because the vote was so split – I began to suspect that “Narnia” was in fact Northern Ireland.
Overall the trip was an eye-opening and enjoyable experience and I felt privileged to witness history being made and to represent Lurgan College.
Josh Wilson, Year 13, Lurgan College